Thursday, September 28, 2017

Statement by Dr. Frank Giecco on the Date of the Timber Structure at Stanwix/Uxellodunum

The Stanwix Roman Fort Bathhouse

I finally managed to track down Dr. Frank Giecco, the author of the unpublished report on the dig by the Carlisle Archaeological Unit in 1999 at the Stanwix Primary School in Stanwix.  I asked him two questions: one, where the late timber structure was located within the old Roman fort and, two, what was the date of that structure.  He responded as follows:

“Dating is very hard, but a 5th century date seems likely if I had to choose based on evidence. Stanwix had very large stone post pads. A similar building is recorded at Birdoswald.  The Stanwix structure was built over the old Roman barracks.”

Dr. Giecco has found similar timber structures at Papcastle in Cumbria (the Roman fort where I have placed Pabo Post Prydyn of the Men of the North).  See

Other archaeologists have made similar findings in the Carlisle/Luguvalium Roman fort. Mark Brennand, Lead Officer Historic Environment and Commons, Environment and Regulatory Services,
Cumbria County Council, has passed along this information via private correspondence:

"There is evidence suggesting fifth century occupation within the fort at Carlisle, and also in the extra-mural settlement. Rachel Newman’s chapter on the early medieval period in The Making of Carlisle - From Romans to Railways (2011) summarises these quite well. Rachel is with Oxford Archaeology North."

I have more on such occupation at Carlisle from Dr. John Zant:

"Without anything more specific, I can only speculate that the buildings you have seen a reference to might have been excavated at Blackfriar's Street in the 1970s. Certainly, the sequence of timber 'strip buildings' excavated there, which began as early as the late 1st century AD, was thought to extend into (possibly well into) the 5th century, though there was no scientific dating (eg radiocarbon), so I imagine the idea that the occupation sequence continued this late was arrived at by 'stretching' the chronology of the latest building phase(s) beyond the latest datable pottery and/or coins that were sealed beneath them. The site is fully published as a monograph in the Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society's Research Series, no. 4 (1990), authored by Mike McCarthy. So far as I can recall, none of the late buildings was demonstrably of the 'hall' type (though the remains were fragmentary), but at least one was built using large post-pits.

Additionally, what may have been part of a post-built timber building was excavated at the cathedral treasury in the late 1980s. This post-dated the latest obviously 'Roman' archaeology and was sealed by a thick deposit of 'dark earth', which was itself cut by late 9th/10th-century graves. The building is, as ever, not independently dated, but its stratigraphic position suggests a very late Roman or early(ish) post-Roman date, but it is impossible to be more specific as to its chronology. The site is published (again by Mike McCarthy) in the Archaeological Journal, Vol 171 (2014).

You are welcome. By the way, I should have said that both the sites I mentioned were located within the settlement, not the fort. Parts of the fort itself were almost certainly occupied into the 5th century too, as the Millennium project of 1998-2001 demonstrated (published in OA North's 'Lancaster Imprints' series (Vol 14, 2009 - authored by me), but there is, as yet, no good evidence for substantial buildings of that date. As ever in this period, the precise chronology is unclear, though at least one phase of activity adjacent to the headquarters building appears to have occurred sometime between c AD 390 and c AD 440, and the final phase in the same area is seemingly even later."

Only just this year, the Roman bathhouse was discovered at Stanwix:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.